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$3 Drill That Can Make a Hole in Anything 


$3 Drill That Can Make a Hole in 

Written By: Pat Delany 


Sooner or later almost every Maker will need to drill something that is almost un-drillable. 
Electrical drills make our lives much easier but they are almost useless on some work 
because the bit turns too fast and heat is allowed to build up to the level that destroys the 

Step 1 — $3 Drill That Can Make a Hole in Anything 

• Pressing down hard with a 
masonry bit and turning slowly is 
all it takes. Regular steel can be 
drilled with a plain drill bit in this 
same way. 

• This is a forgotten technique in the 
age of rechargeable drills. 125 
years ago, holes were not "drilled," 
they were "ratcheted." In much 
more recent times, railroad tracks 
were drilled this way. 

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$3 Drill That Can Make a Hole in Anything 

Step 2 

• An early version of a once-common 
but now forgotten "Cole" drill. 

• Not really forgotten, now, because 
of the efforts of our Multimachine 
news group. 

• Sorry, the source of this picture 
has been lost. 

• A drill like this would be very 
expensive now because of the 
need for a steel forging threaded 
with a fine internal thread. 

Step 3 

• This was the first test by the 
winner of a contest I ran to build an 
all-wood version of the drill. He 
tested it by making a 1" hole in 
steel plate. 

• The "secret" is simple; just press 
down on the bit with 500 to 1 000 
pounds of pressure and turn slowly 
without letting the bit wobble. 

• It is important to apply only enough 
pressure to get the bit to start 
cutting. If you apply too much 
pressure a wedge will build up at 
the cutting edge and it will be 
almost impossible to drill past it. 

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$3 Drill That Can Make a Hole in Anything 

Step 4 

• My subsequent wooden version 
worked pretty well but had a 

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$3 Drill That Can Make a Hole in Anything 

Step 5 

Crowd source design 
help needed here! 


• We need a better way to apply 
pressure to the spindle as it slowly 

• It needs to durable and easily made 
in primitive conditions. A rounded 
hardwood hub and several large 
greased washers work but are not 
the elegant solution I am looking 

• It needs to withstand a thousand 
pounds of pressure as the spindle 
turns and the angle of the arm 

• What's the big deal? Well, many 
millions of farmers could use a drill 
like this to attach plow points made 
from scrap steel to wooden plows. 
This would provide a huge 
reduction in plowing effort. 

• This was designed at the request of 
an EWB engineering professor in 
Kenya. I took so long to find a way 
to drill these holes that, sadly, I 
lost contact with the man. 

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